Palisades tops Salisbury, 28-25
For Salisbury’s football team, the current theme is about improvement.
The Falcons entered Palisades’ Walter T. Rohrer Stadium Friday night looking to redeem themselves from a 55-21 loss to Notre Dame in their season opener.
Throughout most of the first half against Palisades, Salisbury appeared to be on its way, as the Falcons’ speed befuddled the Pirates and led them to an 18-14 halftime lead.
However, Palisades retooled at the half and went with a wildcat offense in the third quarter that eventually wore down the Falcons and helped them to a 28-25 victory in a highly contested battle from start to finish.
Salisbury (0-2) drove down to the Palisades’ 29-yard line, but the Pirates’ Kyle McGrath ended the Falcons’ hopes with an interception with 1:10 left in the game.
However, it was a valiant effort with plenty of promise.
“They ran their quarterback iso, and we had some big guys that came out in the second half and they were gassed at the end of the first half,” said Salisbury head coach Andy Cerco. “That’s where we are at as a football team right now.
“We started at the beginning of September, and we’re still getting into game shape. This is our second game, and we’re going to have our highs and lows in a game. We just have to be able to manage that as a team and keep moving forward.
“I think that’s what happened. They (Palisades) ran the ball down the field and they had some big plays.”
Cerco said it was a similar second-half script to the previous week.
“We had the same thing in the second half last week,” he said. “We came out in the second half and we were OK, and then we ran out of gas. This was our second opportunity at game speed.”
Salisbury senior quarterback Quinton Stephens had a stellar game, throwing for 130 yards with a pair of touchdowns, and he ran for a team-high 100 yards. He often broke free out of the pocket for long spurts and rolled out to find receivers, mainly senior Chad Parton, who caught seven balls for 108 yards with a score. Parton caught several balls deep down field.
Stephens credited Parton and running back Gio Hines for opening some lanes for him. Hines had an electrifying cross-field, 95-yard kickoff return that put the Falcons back into the lead at 12-7 after Palisades scored.
It was the first of two scores in 46 seconds for the Falcons that closed out the half. George Spann recovered an onsides kick, and Stephens dashed into the end zone on a 12-yard scamper with 8:07 left in the first half that gave Salisbury an 18-7 advantage.
“Chad Parton was able to run down field deep and it creates a lot of space in the secondary and that helps widen the field for me and so did Gio Hines, our running back,” said Stephens. “I think him (Parton) being able to run deep creates a lot of room for me to run. He ran some really good routes and that transitioned into the game.”
Stephens noted a difference in the team from their opener.
“Coming into the game, we were more experienced and we fought better,” said Stephens. “We just have to keep working. We played a team that already had three games under their belt. Our defense came up with some big stops, and we just couldn’t convert at the end. It was a hard-fought game, and it will help us.”
The Falcons return home Friday night to host Pen Argyl, who is coming off a 36-13 win over Catasauqua.
Cerco sees his team ready to respond.
“Obviously, no one is happy with losing a game by three points,” said Cerco. “You couldn’t ask for anything more in a high school football game. We have some really talented athletes. We saw a lot of growth between week one and week two. We’re really proud of our guys.”